TV Shows, Policy, Pop Culture

I’m boycotting Eurovision this year and this is why

Eurovision brings the world together - but it brings people oppression, too.

Eurovision. The ultimate camp celebration that Europeans look forward to every year.

Cheesy dance moves, joking commentary and amazing, goofy songs – all to win Eurovision champion and host the next contest.

How to enter?

A country has to be a part of the European Broadcasting Union, so not necessarily a European country. Recent years have seen other countries join including Azerbaijan, Australia, and Morocco, but the contest is broadcasted globally.

The contest can boost and create successful careers for the representatives such as ABBA (winners in 1974 for Sweden), Buck’s Fizz (winners in 1981 for the United Kingdom) and Celine Dion (winner in 1988 for Switzerland).

The entire contest is supposed to be about putting aside political differences and coming together to celebrate the common language and love of music.

But politics does play a major part in the contest with historical resentment between countries being put at the forefront during the final. You can tell which countries hate each other when they refuse to give scores to them, even if their songs are really good.

And let’s not talk about the heightened tensions between Russia and Ukraine from 2016 to 2017. Ukraine won in 2016 with a song titled “1944 which pretty much slandered Russia for the 1944 deportation of the Crimea Tatars, reminiscent of the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014. Russia has also been booed since 2014 for the conflict in Crimea.

Ukraine even banned the Russian representative from entering the country or even participating in 2017, which heightened tensions, of course.

Political songs are a big no-no at the Eurovision Song Contest, but, apparently, criticizing Russia is acceptable at the contest.

It seems it is not acceptable is speaking up for human rights violations and refugees.

One example? Salvador Sobral, who won for Portugal in 2017, wore an ‘SOS Refugees’ t-shirt at a Eurovision press conference and was banned from wearing it ever again during his tenure as champion as it promoted a political message.

The 2019 contest is being held in Tel Aviv (who won four times and hosted two times previously) with rumors initially circling that the event will be held in Jerusalem, like previous events. Palestinian officials soon began the campaign, calling on the world to boycott the event due to the human rights violations currently taking place in Israel against the Palestinian population.

The Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign took strength and many artists across Europe called on the countries to boycott the event, but their calls were ignored.

41 of the 50 eligible countries are heading to Tel Aviv for the contest with Israel increasing security, banning activists and trying to brush over their human right violations by contracting Madonna to perform during the half-time show, calling forward six previous Eurovision contest winners to also perform and commissioning some of Israel’s biggest stars who are known around the world from Bar Refaeli to Gal Gadot to make appearances and take on hosting duties.  

In fact, Israel was so determined to portray themselves as an international law-abiding country, they even retaliated against the BDS boycott by releasing a PR video that told everyone (in a very cheesy song), that they are nothing like they are being portrayed; that they are not a country of land occupation or human rights violations and that everyone should come to Tel Aviv to celebrate Eurovision.

Yeah, we’re not fools.

I love Eurovision. I love the cheesiness of the songs, the awesome stage settings, and seeing unknown stars make names for themselves.

But how can we sit there and watch pyrotechnics, flashy costumes and have fun when people are being oppressed in Israel?

How can we ignore that only at the beginning of May, Israel killed 15 Palestinian civilians in the Gaza strip, including a pregnant woman and a 14-month-old?

How can we ignore the oppression and pain of the Palestinians in the West Bank? How some of them have had their families ripped apart due to air strikes and unlawful arrests? How their homes have been destroyed before their eyes and how they are not even seen as citizens of their ancestral lands?

I have a conscience and morals that make it difficult for me to enjoy Eurovision this year. I can’t sit there and watch the fun, knowing only 70 miles east and south, people are suffering in the West Bank and Gaza.